Expedition to the North Aral Sea was conducted in August-September 2011 by Professor of Geography at the University of the West Michigan Ph.Micklin, Dr. N.Aladin and Dr. I.Plotnikov of the Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences.
The main purpose of the expedition was to evaluate the success of a project to raise, stabilize, and improve the ecology of the Small Aral Sea.
|Children's drawing contest, Ulbala Zhubanysheva, Aral'sk, Kazakhstan|
In the recent past the Aral Sea represented a unique natural object – saline lake-sea with a surface area covering more than 60 thousand square kilometers and a volume of about 1000 cubical kilometers, and having high biological productivity.
The Aral Sea is located in northern deserted part of Central Asia, within the borders of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, and related to the river basin of the same name. By size the Aral Sea occupied the fourth place in the world among lakes with just the Caspian Sea, Lake Superior (Canada, USA), Lake Victoria (Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda) ahead and the second place among intercontinental enclosed lakes keeping only the Caspian Sea ahead; that is why people referred it as the Sea. The surface water level of the Aral Sea in natural conditions used to reach 53m above the sea level, which is almost 80m higher than the present level of the Caspian Sea. It had sizes stood for 428km in length and 234 km in width, with a maximum depth of 69 m; water volume accounted for 1064 km3.
|Northern Aral Sea, 2010|
According to most researchers and experts, restoration of the whole sea to the level of 1960s is seen as impossible in near future. In 1990-s it had been decided to make an attempt for saving at least Northern part of the sea (Small sea or Small Aral) within the “Syrdarya Control and Northern Aral Sea” Project. Within the First phase of the project implementation in 2003-2005 Kazakhstan built Kokaral dam from Kokaral peninsula to the Syrdarya delta, which separated Small Aral from the rest part (Large Aral); hydrotechnical gate in a dam can pass the excess of water in order to regulate the level of the reservoir.
On October 12th the European Parliament held High Level Public Hearing on the Aral Sea problems with the participation of representatives of the international political and economic organizations, experts and analysts.
The Executive Committee IFAS and “Asar-Bereke” Foundation together with the general partner – Kazakhstan-Russian Medical University organized the charity action on providing affordable high quality medical assistance using the mobile medical equipment in the remote villages of Aral and Kazaly regions of Kyzylorda oblast most affected by the Aral Sea drying out.
Currently the preparatory work for the second phase of the Northern Aral Sea and Syrdarya Control project supported by the Government of Kazakhstan and the World Bank is underway. On the 16th of June 2010 the working panel of experts in the field of hydro unit construction, representatives of the oblast (country regional) administrative bodies and IFAS specialists took place in Kyzylorda.
On May 26 Berlin hosted an international forum "The Aral Sea: from the lake to the desert - the life with an environmental catastrophe", organized by the Embassy of Kazakhstan in cooperation with German Union for Environmental Protection (NABU).
The EC IFAS chairman Saghit Ibatullin made presentation of the Aral problems as a topic for the Seventh Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe”. The presentation included information on the preparation process of the Action Program in the Aral Sea basin for the period 2011-2015 (ASBP-3).
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